So much of the Trump presidency to this moment has been about undoing President Barack Obama.
Announcing the US would leave the Iran nuclear deal, President Donald Trump was still more concerned with how badly he said it was negotiated than with what would come next.
He called it flawed, horrible, poorly negotiated and “defective at its core” and promised vaguely to work with allies toward something new.
There’s a pattern here. Whatever Obama did was bad and Trump will deliver something better.
He immediately as President pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the massive trade deal Obama spent so much time working on. (The other countries in TPP have carried on without the US instead.)
He spent scads of his political capital trying, in vain, to dismantle Obamacare. And when that didn’t work, the President and Republicans set about starving it instead.
Without regard to its effect on the health insurance market, he’s hacked at the law where he could and made a point of declaring it dead.
“There’s no such thing as Obamacare anymore,” he said after Republicans used their tax cuts package to zero out the penalty for not having health insurance.
He said he’ll pull the US out of the Paris climate agreement, isolating the US on that issue on the world stage.
He’s kept a scandal-ridden Environmental Protection Agency administrator in place largely because of the perception that Scott Pruitt has been effective at starting the process of undoing Obama-era environmental regulations.
Now, 17 months into office, Trump will argue he’s finally on the cusp of actually delivering something he can point to as better.
That’s probably why so much of his Iran announcement dealt with North Korea, another nuclear aspiring country.
Trump inherited no international deal on North Korea. And he has upended decades of foreign policy orthodoxy to bring North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong Un to the negotiating table.
He offered those forthcoming talks up as proof he would deliver on his word.
And it’s his own word that Trump views as most important. US commitments seem to begin with his presidency since previous presidents entered into bad deals. Good deals will happen in the future. Trust him.
“The reality is the JCPOA was Obama’s deal,” said Middle East expert Aaron David Miller on CNN’s “New Day” Wednesday. “The North Korean business is Trump’s ride into the history books. If he succeeds it will reframe his foreign policy presidency.”
The odd thing here is that North Korea wants the world to believe it is nuclear capable, and Iran does not.
North Korea’s Kim said recently the country no longer needs to test its weapons capabilities because they are “complete.”
Whether that was a boast or not is unclear, but this week presents us with the US President nixing an international agreement to curb a nuclear program with a country that promised it was no longer pursuing a nuclear deal and doubling down on his own ability to negotiate with a strongman who says he already has nuclear weapons.
Trump has made no promises that he will be able to reach an agreement with North Korea, but he is betting on it big time. And as he approaches the halfway point of his presidency, it will be the first time he can deliver on his promise to negotiate better deals than his predecessor instead of just unwinding them.